Pegasus-class PHM hydrofoil





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Published on Jul 21, 2009

The Pegasus-class hydrofoils were a series of fast attack patrol boats employed by the U.S. Navy. They were in service from 1977 through 1993. These hydrofoils carried the designation "PHM" for "Patrol, Hydrofoil, Missile." The Pegasus class vessels were primarily intended for green water coastal operations, such as narcotics interdiction and coastal patrol.

Admiral Elmo Zumwalt began the PHM project to increase the Navy's number of surface vessels in a cost-effective manner. The project was to involve four other navies—the Royal Navy, Canadian Forces, the Bundesmarine, and the Marina Militare, for as many as 100 craft.

After Zumwalt's retirement, the Navy chose to funnel most of the money for the PHMs into larger vessels. This delayed the ongoing construction of Pegasus, and the other vessels were not started. Congress eventually forced the Navy to complete the vessels. The difficulties in project progression forced the other involved navies to abort their participation.

The Pegasus class ships were powered by two 1,600 horsepower (1,200 kW) Mercedes-Benz diesels when waterborne, giving them a speed of 12 knots. When foilborne, the ships were powered by a General Electric LM2500 gas turbine, giving them a speed of 48 knots.

Pegasus ships were well armed for their size, carrying two four-rack RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and an Oto Melara 76 mm gun. The Harpoons, specifically, were capable of sinking far larger ships at distances in excess of 60 nautical miles (110 km). The German version would have carried the MM38 Exocet.

As Pegasus was constructed several years before the rest of the series, there are some slight differences, such as the fire-control system.

All six vessels were constructed by Boeing, in Seattle at the Renton plant at the south end of Lake Washington. They were stationed at NAS Key West.

The technology was first pioneered by the USS Tucumcari (PGH-2) which was tried in Vietnam, but ran aground. It was judged to be more advanced than the Grumman Flagstaff which was built at the same time to the same requirements. The primary technology, also used in the Boeing Jetfoil ferries, used submerged flying foils with waterjet propulsion.

The ships were retired because they were not judged cost effective for their mission in a Navy with primarily offensive missions rather than coastal patrol.


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